Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category

“If you name it, you own it. And they don’t want to own it.” 

By JC

Well, it was just a matter of time until people started talking about “The War Which Must Not be Named.” I suppose if a war doesn’t have a name, it can’t realistically be  called a “war,” right?

There is an interesting dimension to the ongoing circumvention of the Constitution over our latest undeclared war. While some Administration officials are finally calling our attacks in Syria as a “war,” the discomfort over defining this indefinite campaign has led to equal discomfort over naming it. After two months of airstrikes and statements that the campaign will likely go on for years, the Administration still have not named this war. The choice would now seem obvious: Operation Voldemort, the war which must not be named.

Usually, the military loves to give inspiring names to its campaigns, though sometimes the name can reveal a bit of insecurity like “Operation Just Cause” in Panama — a name that only seemed to amplify the questions of the legality or legitimacy of the invasion. Once coined, the name then appears on everything from government contracts to legislation to service medals. 

However, the Administration has been in a not-so-private internal debate over what to call the campaign against Islamic State. Like naming a puppy, the naming of a war can create a dangerous achievement to those with commitment issues. As one defense official was quoted as saying “If you name it, you own it. And they don’t want to own it.” 

For the moment, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby says that the Administration currently has “no plans to name the operation”…

The Pentagon, in trying to come up with an internal name for the war, came up with a tongue-in-cheek name that really isn’t so far from the truth:

In the absence of an official name, alternatives are bouncing around the halls of the Pentagon. One top suggestion takes note of how U.S. bombing raids are targeting U.S.-made equipment nabbed by Islamic State fighters. The suggestion: Operation Hey That’s My Humvee.

Thankfully, President Obama’s ex-CIA Director and ex-Pentagon head Leon Panetta has no qualms giving the latest extra-Constitutional imperial incursion into the middle east a name that will resonate through the history books: the “Thirty Year War.”

Americans should be braced for a long battle against the brutal terrorist group Islamic State that will test U.S. resolve — and the leadership of the commander in chief, says Leon Panetta, who headed the CIA and then the Pentagon as Al Qaeda was weakened and Osama bin Laden killed.

“I think we’re looking at kind of a 30-year war,” he says, one that will have to extend beyond Islamic State to include emerging threats in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere.

So, as you get ready to head to the polls, and endorse the current crop of candidates, you can rest assured that Democrats, in all their infinite wisdom, have chosen to hunker down to endure war for the long term.

Remember, as you pencil in your absentee ballot or pull the lever on your electronic voting machine, that the stage has been set for indefinite warfare, and your vote for candidates who refuse to take anti-war stances endorses the status quo.

“Look, I’ve been a guy who’s always been honest,” Panetta says. “I’ve been honest in politics, honest with the people that I deal with. I’ve been a straight talker…

Panetta also argues that there is time for Obama to change tactics and recover — and that it is imperative he do so…

“My hope is that the president, recognizing that we are at a kind of critical point in his administration, will take the bit in his teeth and will say, ‘We have got to solve these problems.'”

And Barack Obama’s legacy?

“For the first four years, and the time I spent there, I thought he was a strong leader on security issues… But these last two years I think he kind of lost his way. You know, it’s been a mixed message, a little ambivalence in trying to approach these issues and try to clarify what the role of this country is all about.

“He may have found himself again with regards to this ISIS crisis. I hope that’s the case.

“Kind of lost his way.” Uh huh. I suppose you could say that if you ever believed that he had “his way” in the first place. Nice of the ex-CIA director to feel that our President may have found his way by submerging our country into the “Thirty Year War.” Not to mention the self-delusion about thinking he is honest (“honest CIA Director” is an oxymoron if I ever did hear one).

Must be time to renew my passport (this thought keeps arising)…

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by lizard

Another terrorist has been taken out, and our president can now boldly state that such antiquated notions as due process for American citizens no longer apply.

I’m wondering if this ability to flout a core principal of our judicial process is something only presidents can make use of.

Otherwise, someone should tell the protestors that the economic terrorists on Wall Street can now be executed at will, simply because they are terrorists.

Oh well, time to start another day, citizens. And if you hear a slight droning sound overhead, don’t worry. You are not terrorists, and therefore have nothing to worry about…right?

BCFS

Just ignore anything thing that comes out of a politician’s mouth when discussing oil prices, whether that politician may be President Obama or Denny “I do believe I fell off my horse” Rehberg.  For that matter you can also ignore Faux News’ claim that financial speculation is the key culprit of high oil prices because the reality is that the main driver behind oil prices is a lack of sufficient supply.

The Oil Drum has a great analysis (which continues in the comments) up at their site that comes to this very conclusion.  It’s a long, and a very technical post, but well worth the read.

The basic problem the world is facing in the short-term is that the great oil exporters aren’t so great anymore.  You see, the major exporters have been massively developing their countries over the last 20 years trying to diversify their economies away from a dependence on oil exports.  This has strangely had the reverse effect of making their economies more reliant on oil.

In 2005 total world exports were 40.8 million barrels per day (mbpd) as compared with 35.7 mbpd in 2009, a  12.5% decline in only a matter of 4 years.  While data might not be available for 2010, the news only gets worse.  Both Russia and China have instituted export restrictions so as to support their domestic economies.  This will lead to a further reduction in total oil exports.  The news out of Russia, being the world’s second largest oil producer, does not bode well for the oil importing countries of the world.  Add in the fact that Saudi Arabian oil production peaked in 2005 and Russia peaked in 2007.  No country can replace these two producers and so the decline in world exports will continue and with it prices at the gas station here in America will continue to rise.

Two additional variables complicate the situation.  The first is political.  Already the Arab Spring is effecting oil exports coming out of the Middle East.  But on-top of the unrest directly leading to reductions in oil production regimes that are desperate to hold on to their power are already starting to spend oil revenue on social programs with the aim to buy the silence of their populace.  That leaves less money to invest in future oil production and will lead to an otherwise faster decline in production.

The second, is the economic principle of diminishing returns on investment.  This is an economic fact that was drilled into my head in economics class.  Usually, this principle is couched in the terms of labor vs. capital.  Each additional laborer produces a certain amount of profit, add too many workers and that rate of return decrease and will eventually go negative.  Same with capital.

Energy markets are subject to the same principle but in a slightly different manner.  The principle here is “energy returned on energy invested” (EROEI).  Back in the day when oil was first discovered, the EROEI was in the range of 30-50, meaning for every unit of energy expended in production, 30-50 units of energy were actually produced.  Now however, we are down to the point of extracting oil at an EROEI under 10, with tar sands right about 5.  So we are reaching the point of having to expend a lot more energy and money to get just a little bit of energy in return.

Now, You can take this principle and expand it a bit further.  Lets take for example infrastructure investment, in this case our national highway network.  Because this type of investment is public, the return on investment would be the total economic activity spurred by said investment, ranging from the construction jobs created directly from the investment to the development of real estate on former farmland and the sale of cars that fill up said highways.

Between 2004 and 2008 23,300 miles of additional roadway were built in America.  Now the first 23,300 miles that were built in the system way back under Truman contributed much more to the economic prosperity of our country than the last 23,300 miles.  Why is that?  It’s because of all that previous investment.  Not only is that last 23,300 miles a marginal amount at this point compared with all that previous investment,  but all those thousands of miles already built require a lot of investment each and every year just to maintain.  All the maintenance required to keep up that old investment takes away from the ability of a nation to invest in new infrastructure.

This same phenomenon is occurring in places like Saudi Arabia.  Once you’ve gotten to all the easy oil, you have to spend an increasing amount of money just to tread water.  From The Oil Drum:  Saudi Arabian oil officials met with Halliburton to discuss plans to boost their oil-directed rig count by roughly 30%.

According to a Saudi oil official interviewed by Reuters, the investment in new drilling rigs “is not to expand capacity. It’s to sustain current capacity on new fields and old fields that have been bottled up.” (1) This news on its own should be troubling as it infers that the Kingdom is facing significant declines on currently producing fields. Even more troubling is the recent statement by another senior Saudi oil official that the Kingdom “expects oil production to hold steady at an average of 8.7 million barrels per day to 2015.”

Increasing investment by 30% just to stay barely above water.

Drill-Baby-Drill!

By CFS

This come from an AP story featured in the Missoulian today:

The revelation that intelligence gleaned from the CIA’s so-called black sites helped kill bin Laden was seen as vindication for many intelligence officials who have been repeatedly investigated and criticized for their involvement in a program that involved the harshest interrogation methods in U.S. history.

“We got beat up for it, but those efforts led to this great day,” said Marty Martin, a retired CIA officer who for years led the hunt for bin Laden.

Get the full article here: http://tinyurl.com/4223ltt

So fuck it… Let’s shred the constitution as long as it makes us feel safe and gives us petrol prices below $4 per gallon.

And if these black sites and torture are so successful, why didn’t we capture Osama and send him somewhere to be interigated?

By CFS

It would seem that we in America are once again experiencing a kumbaya moment in which we all hug, hold hands, and say things like “America, Fuck Yeah!” and chant “USA, USA.” All because of the killing of one man. But in watching the news reports of celebrations taking place outside of the White House and where the twin towers used to grace the skyline of NYC, I couldn’t help but see parallels between how some Americans reacted and how some Muslims reacted after 9/11.

When we were surprised by this:

Some in the Muslim world reacted like this:

In many respects we couldn’t understand why there would be anybody in the world that would be happy with an attack on America. We collectively scratched our heads seeking answers to why people hated us. And because we have no understanding of history, of cause and effect, we smugly came to the conclusion that it was because they hate our freedom, or that Islam was simply a naturally violent and barbaric religion.

Yet when we final got revenge with this:

Some in America reacted like this:

Now, I’m not saying that the attacks that occurred on September 11th and the killing of Osama Bin Laden are equivalent acts of violence. The people in the Twin Towers were innocent, Osama had crimes to pay for. The deaths of 3,000 unsuspecting people on that morning can not be rationalized, while Osama had to have known what fate held in store for him, he knew he was a hunted man. Otherwise, he would not have been hiding out in a high security compound. Osama Bin Laden deserved to be punished for his actions, to be brought to justice for the atrocities he set in motion.

But what the two events share is their symbolism. The attacks on 9/11 weren’t so much aimed at the people in those buildings as they were the symbols of American strength, both financial and martial. Osama struck at the heart of our empire, attempting to unveil the corruption and moral degradation that lies at the core of our world spanning reach. Our strike this weekend, cutting off the head of Al Qaeda, was just as symbolic. We proved that no matter how long we have to wait or how far we have to go, America will hunt down every last terrorist and we will show no mercy. There will be no day in court for the likes of Osama Bin Laden. Others like him will be put down like the dogs that they are.

News that we got Osama was an emotional release… an end to a chapter in our current American story. But for all the celebrating there needs to be a more focused and inward reflection of what this event really means for our current situation. And my guess would be that beyond the symbolism, beyond the feel good moment, little will change. Our quest for hegemony will continue unabated and the world’s reaction to such a geopolitical reality will continue.

I’ll leave you with this somber reflection…

By CFS

In a sad flashback to the Bush era, it appears that an Obama Administration official, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, is under pressure to resign over comments he recently made regarding the Libyan uprising.  While giving his testimony to a congressional hearing regarding the situation in Libya Clapper commented that Gaddafi’s, “regime will prevail,” in the longer term because of its superior firepower.  Republican Senator Lindsey Graham immediately called for the Director’s resignation saying that, “his comments will make the situation more difficult for those opposing Gadhafi.”

Now… I don’t enjoy defending the intelligence community given human rights violations, extraordinary rendition, and blowback caused by their interference in other country’s sovereign affairs.  But Clapper hits the nail directly on the head with his assessment of what is happening in Libya.  The longer that Gaddafi has to re-consolidate his power, assault the rebels in the eastern half of the country, and practice realpolitik the more likely it is that he and his sons, will come out of this triumphant.

Continue Reading »

By CFS

Our war in Afghanistan isn’t in the news much anymore… there are better and more interesting things for the media to pay attention to now; the uplifting story of the wave sweeping away autocratic regimes in the Middle East, crazy shit Teapublicans do and say, our own economic plight/scandal, or Miley Cyrus taking a bong rip.  And besides, a slow moving wreck is much less interesting than a spectacular flame out.  What more is there for the media to cover and write about that hasn’t already been covered after a decade of occupation of a foreign land?

Armadillo, a Danish documentary following the nine month deployment of a Danish platoon to Helmand during 2009 featured last night at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival does what no reporting can; give an honest portrayal of the situation through the eyes of soldiers.  The documentary takes it’s name from the forward operating base in which the Danish platoon is stationed.  Despite the fact that the cameras are embedded with the Danish soldiers from the time they leave their homes to the time they return, the documentary isn’t a biased affair.  You are given a chance to see the challenges facing both the soldiers and the Afghani civilians.

You see the despair of a mother saying goodbye to her son leaving for Afghanistan; witness the heartbreak of a farmer that had his house blown-up by a mortar – killing his mother and daughter – while he was away at market; see the fear in the eyes of an Afghani father afraid to speak to the Danes for fear of the Taliban cutting the throats of his sons; feel the anxiety of the Danes as they prepare for a patrol and later receive fire from a hidden position; hear the anger in the voice of children who have had friends and family killed in the fighting as they taunt the soldiers; experience concern for a platoon leader seriously injured after his vehicle gets hit by an IED.

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by JC

By now it has become painfully obvious that the American media doesn’t have a clue how to cover what is unfolding in Egypt and the rest of the middle east. Even watching Rachel Maddow’s extensive coverage last night didn’t get into the depth of the issue.

So I poked around and found Al Jazeera’s english live feed. If anybody cares to learn something about this issue, just turn on the feed and watch for a while. It’s illuminating.

I couldn’t find a way to embed the feed, so you’ll have to go to this page:

http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/

Update: Great read over at HuffPost by Ryan Grim about how Al Jazeera is blacked out by most corporate content providers in the U.S.:

Canadian television viewers looking for the most thorough and in-depth coverage of the uprising in Egypt have the option of tuning into Al Jazeera English, whose on-the-ground coverage of the turmoil is unmatched by any other outlet. American viewers, meanwhile, have little choice but to wait until one of the U.S. cable-company-approved networks broadcasts footage from AJE, which the company makes publicly available. What they can’t do is watch the network directly.

Other than in a handful of pockets across the U.S. – including Ohio, Vermont and Washington, D.C. – cable carriers do not give viewers the choice of watching Al Jazeera. That corporate censorship comes as American diplomats harshly criticize the Egyptian government for blocking Internet communication inside the country and as Egypt attempts to block Al Jazeera from broadcasting.

The result of the Al Jazeera English blackout in the United States has been a surge in traffic to the media outlet’s website, where footage can be seen streaming live. The last 24 hours have seen a two-and-a-half thousand percent increase in web traffic, Tony Burman, head of North American strategies for Al Jazeera English, told HuffPost. Sixty percent of that traffic, he said, has come from the United States.

[HuffPo UPdate: Dish Network and DirecTV are temporarily allowing subscribers to access Al Jazeera. It can be found on channel 9410 on Dish Network and 375 on DirecTV.]

By Duganz

I remember sitting in my high school computer lab when we started shocking and awing Iraqi civilians, and soldiers into oblivion. Some of my classmates were cheering. I was 18 so I could only think of Johnson, Nixon, and the story my Dad’s plan to run to Canada when he got his draft number (just a few months before the end of the Vietnam draft).

We’ve been fighting in Afghanistan for over nine years, and in Iraq nearly eight years. The cost of the wars has exceeded $1 trillion. Nearly 100,000 American troops have been wounded, and thousands have died.As for civilians of those two nations, thousands are dead, homeless, or slowly descending into a mindset wherein bombs are a fashion statement.

All those years, all that money, and all of those wounded human beings and I still have yet to get a sound reason for this question I’ve had all along: “Why are we fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?”

It’s a childish question, I know. But it is nonetheless relevant. The Left has laid blame on reactionary tactics (Afghanistan), and corporatism (Iraq). The Right is quick to beat the purity drum with a ratta-tat-tat roll for FREEDOM! FOR! ALL! The Left arguments may be true, we may be in these conflicts for empty reactionary reasons and our ongoing desire to burn dead dinosaurs. I don’t know.

As for the Right’s reasoning, well, I don’t know how an occupation creates freedom. And I mean that literally. How are people free if armed soldiers are walking around telling them what to do?

I ultimately want to believe the best in all people, even former President George W. Bush. I want to believe that he got bad intel, and that he stretched facts for pure reasons (it ain’t likely, but I want it to be true). I want to believe that we are still losing lives and money for the cause of freedom, even if I feel that war is a misguided means to an end when it comes not from the people, but from an outside force.

But, hell, it’s probably just imperialism and greed.

I want answers to why this has happened, and why it’s still going on. I’m Cruise in A Few Good Men. I want the truth (and, sadly, my government seems to think more like Nicholson).

So I decided to email Sen. Jon Tester, Sen. Max Baucus, and Rep. Dennis “Denny” Rehberg that one simple question: “Why are we fighting wars Iraq and Afghanistan?”

I didn’t put anything else in the email. Just the question; no slant or bias. I could have asked how any of them sleep at night knowing they could save lives, or if each flag-draped coffin means something to them. I could have asked Baucus if his nephew dying changed his mind.

I only used those eight simple words.

For those of you who have never emailed our national representatives, the easiest way is through the email forms available at their websites (links above). You give some personal info (most likely for future mailers), select a topic from a pre-made list, and then you’re free to write a little message.

But here’s something interesting:

At Tester’s site you cannot select Afghanistan as a topic, but you can ask about Iraq; Baucus apparently wishes to avoid talking about either (regret those votes Max?) as neither war is an available topic so I chose “foreign policy”; Denny is the only one providing an option for both under the heading “WAR.” I’m not lying. His topic list has the word “WAR.” Just like that. In CAPS. Like it should be proceeded by a grunt and the words “Good god, y’all. What is it good for?”

My emails have been sent. I’m waiting for responses.

I’ve been waiting for nearly ten years. I’ll post the responses as they come in.

***

Update (5:20pm): I posted this on Twitter at approximately 5:10pm MST. Rep. Rehberg’s account is verified. Sen Tester’s is not. It’s possible that Mr. Smith can infact no longer go to Washington, but Mr. Duganz can go to the internet.

by JC

This upcoming week marks Barack Obama’s taking full ownership of the Afghan war, and escalating it to over a hundred thousand troops. To those of us who lived during the Vietnam war the similarities are eery. That war changed the history of this country–not because of the war or the purpose it was fought for, but because of the clash of cultures at home that ripped this country apart.

Even given that Obama will sell his war and its escalation with an exit strategy, we have to ask: is it worth this? Does this make sense for America to take on at this time? Can you really write an exit strategy while you are escalating a war with ill-defined goals, and botched strategies? A war in a part of the world where outsiders have never won?

Another similarity with WWII: it was the scope and scale of that war which eventually drug this country out of the Great Depression. Will our destabilization of the middle east–with Iran and Pakistan potentially entering the war theater with Afghanistan and Iraq, lead to WWIII? Is this the end play? Perpetual war? Return of the draft?

Too many questions, and no answers.

afghanistan

I’m reminded, as the title to this diary attests, of the scene in Apocalypse Now, where the helicopters rage across the countryside spewing napalm, and we feel the war taking a turn towards madness.

“This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes…again
Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need…of some…stranger’s hand
In a…desperate land
Lost in a Roman…wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane…”
– The Doors

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

Wow. Didn’t know compliance with state laws was voluntary. Pretty convenient, huh?

Bitterroot foreclosures are skyrocketing.

I follow a number of foreign tweeters, including some chinese folk who continue to try and push stories out about the melamine-in-baby-food problem. One that I follow was arrested and then later released probably because he tweeted his own arrest. Now, that tweeter is tweeting that organizers for the families of the victims of the tainted milk have been arrested. There’s one guy who has posted pics of his tiny baby who is in kidney failure. It is heartbreaking. Their government is failing them, and the world needs to know.

Twitter is all very interesting. There is great potential there to influence and help promote democracy from what seems a silly tech site. When the Iranian guard cracked down recently most media and even those within Iran agreed that Twitter served as a tool to save lives from the harsh government crackdown. Another group that I’m aware of is trying to get 5 Cubans released, and wants the U.S. to intervene. Twitter makes the world larger for one of it’s most difficult issues: human rights.

Melinda Gopher, Democratic candidate for Montana’s lone House of Representative seat, has a website up. Ms. Gopher is OjibwekweOgemaw on twitter.

Forward Montana is hiring a managing director. No mail or phone calls, please. Deadline is December 7.

Facts are, apparently, a problem for former Republican Vice President candidate Sarah Palin

If you aren’t reading the Indy’s blog every day, you are missing out.

The Montana Kaimin reports on the woefully sad story of how the Board of Regents is going to have to have to give King George a $75,000 raise, all because the hired a new president out an MSU. The Missoulian covered the same story about a week ago…and it, too, had interviews with persons who were more than happy to frame it as a “oh, poor us, we have to give him a $75,000 raise.” Sorry. Not buying it. No where else in Montana is an entity hiring new people based on competitive wages and then giving a raise to every single other person of the same job a raise.

In more irony, these people are framing this as some sort of search for excellence. Let’s be clear here, with regards to George Dennison. He’s there already. What has he done to increase his excellence rating to a tune of $75,000? And lately, he’s not really shown any excellence in leadership towards education. Football maybe. Beyond that – isn’t he due to recycle his let’s-bulldoze-the-golf-course-and-build-condos plan again? I say let him prove his excellence to someone else if he wants $280,000 a year…and then let’s promote from within the walls of UM. I’m sure there’s someone down there not only capable, but more than willing to take the job on at less than $280,000.

Well now – that’s enough, isn’t it? What say you?

by jhwygirl

Spend a day out and about, and all kinds of things happening.

Looks like President Clinton pulled off an impressive feat considering all the efforts that have been undertaken to attempt to free U.S. journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee.

From President Clinton spokesman (and Missoulian Bozemanite) Matt McKenna:

President Clinton has safely left North Korea with Laura Ling and Euna Lee. They are en route to Los Angeles where Laura and Euna will be reunited with their families.

by Pete Talbot

“The era of American global leadership … is over.”

So writes John Gray. First in the Observer of London and reprinted in December’s Harper’s Magazine.

The U.S. economic meltdown is but a symptom of what Gray terms “an historic geopolitical shift, in which the balance of power in the world is being altered irrevocably.”

The paradox in this shift is that the emerging powers, China and Russia for example, spurned the American model of free (or self-regulating) markets. In one of my favorite insights, Gray says, “China in particular was hectored relentlessly on the weakness of its banking system. But China’s success has been based on its consistent contempt for Western advice and it is not Chinese banks that are currently going bust. How symbolic yesterday (Sept. 27, 2008) that Chinese astronauts take a spacewalk while the U.S. Treasury Secretary is on his knees begging for a bailout.”

And further, as American administrations lectured other countries on the necessity of sound finance (Indonesia, Thailand, Argentina, etc.) our country continued borrowing on a colossal scale to finance tax cuts and fund it’s overstretched military commitments.

Gray doesn’t blame one party over another for the financial collapse but “a free-for-all market that American Legislators created.” He continues:

“The irony of the post-Cold War period is that the fall of communism was followed by the rise of another utopian ideology. In American and Britain, and to a lesser extent other Western countries, a type of market fundamentalism became the guiding philosophy. The collapse of American power that is underway is the predictable upshot. Like the Soviet collapse, it will have large geopolitical repercussions. An enfeebled economy cannot support America’s over-extended military commitments for much longer. Retrenchment is inevitable and it is unlikely to be gradual or well planned.”

I’d like to offer some insights of my own:

There’s a little nationalist in all of us, so our initial reaction to the above story is disheartening — especially if you believe that American policy is a force for good around the world. America has done many positive things abroad: from fighting Nazi and Japanese Imperialism in World War II, to foreign aid to impoverished countries, to the Peace Corps. Lately, though, not so much, as evidenced by our loss of grace on the world stage.

So, I don’t believe isolationism (a la Ron Paul) is the answer but maybe it’s time for a little national introspection. Like, how we got where we are today, economically and imperially. Republican President Dwight Eisenhower coined the phrase “military-industrial complex.” We need to take a hard look at just what is driving our foreign policy.

I certainly don’t believe that Communism is the answer. As a matter of fact, to say that China is a Communist country is to do the term “Communism” a huge disservice. China continues to practice the worst aspects of Communism: a rejection of freedom — of religion, speech and the press — while embracing the worst aspects of capitalism: the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, the inability to form labor unions, a disregard for workplace safety and contempt for the environmental.

But the U.S. has lost its way. Maybe a break from number one superpower status isn’t such a bad thing until we can get our country back on the right path.


by jhwygirl

At least, that’s the premise she puts forth in a piece posted at The Nation….and I have to say, I agree.

Here’s a tidbit, on reproductive issues:

I also believe that a teenager’s pregnancy is a “private family matter.” In fact, I believe that every woman’s pregnancy is a “private, family matter.” (I bet the GOP never thought of making that leap!)

Or how about this, on her foreign policy experience?

Here’s where I really shine. Governor Palin got her first passport in 2007. I got my first passport in 1970, when the Governor was only 6 years old! Not only do I have a passport, I have actually been outside of the United States, dozens of times. I have had relationships and conversations with real foreigners, in their own countries, in restaurants, shops, flea markets, museums, nightclubs, spas, hotels, all modes of public transportation, and even in their own homes. My foreign policies are fair, inclusive and sensitive to cultural differences…I know Governor Palin has one distinct advantage in living so close to Russia, in that she can keep a close eye on nefarious activity across the Bering Strait, but I, too, live very close to a foreign country. Canada is less than 400 miles from my home in New York City, and you never know when it might become necessary to invade a sovereign nation that has not attacked us, as we learned the hard way. Not only that, I have a girlfriend in Austin, Texas, whom I’m going to ask to keep an eye on Mexico.

McCain sure blew it, didn’t he?

by jhwygirl

Unveiling what they call “one of President Bush’s most lasting legacies,” the New York Times brings us the news that the Bush Administration has nearly tripled foreign arms sales to countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, and countries in northern Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia, this fiscal year alone, has signed at least $6 billion worth of agreements to buy weapons from the United States government — the highest figure for that country since 1993, which was another peak year in American weapons sales, after the first Persian Gulf war.

The 9/11 terrorists came from where?

Saudi Arabia, of course.

Even further – and the Times article touches specifically on this – didn’t the U.S. arm Osama bin Laden when he was helping lead the fight against the Soviet Union in the Afghani War back in the 80’s? Yep.:

Travis Sharp, a military policy analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, a Washington research group, said one of his biggest worries was that if alliances shifted, the United States might eventually be in combat against an enemy equipped with American-made weapons. Arms sales have had unintended consequences before, as when the United States armed militants fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, only to eventually confront hostile Taliban fighters armed with the same weapons there.

That exact scenario is playing out right now. Pakistan is buying a huge chunk of arms. Apparently, we’ve picked a side in the Pakistan/India rumblings. Of course, Pakistan is our friend too, right? But wait. Just this last week Pakistan’s military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, lashed out at the U.S. Wednesday, saying the cross-border military raids executed in the last week were not in keeping with any military agreement between the two nations.

Of course, there’s this, too: The U.S. is currently faced with fighting the same F-16’s it’s supplied to Pakistan.

Might have to rethink that friend thing.

I guess the Bush Administration figures it hasn’t left us with enough mess – a crumbling economy and an illegal war in Iraq that has only fed the rise of terrorism in the Middle East – now they’re increasing arms sales to throw the unstable regions of the world into more chaos.

Maybe that’s the Bush Doctrine: The Foreign Policy via Chaos Theory.

by jhwygirl

Guess.

Gee – that didn’t take long, did it?

UPDATE: The White House apparently brought this upon themselves. Methinks someone is waking up this morning hating themselves.

by jhwygirl

Monday night’s The Daily Show – which shows at midnight Tuesday morning here in the mountain west – had an extremely interesting interview with Douglas Feith, former Undersecretary for Defense Policy – the man who helped formulate the war in Iraq.

So there I was a midnight, trying to fall asleep. Stewart interviewing Feith about his book, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism. {yawn}

Boy, I was wrong.

Maybe he thought he’d get the cakewalk that McCain got last week when Stewart let the defacto Republican presidential candidate escape any question regarding his pastor problems (Pastor I-hate-Catholics Hagee and Pastor Rod Islam-is-a-false-religion-that-must-be-destroyed-by-America Parsley).

Far from it – Feith was but-but-buttin’ from the get go, but only after a deadpan “holy crap” look on his face from Stewart’s first real question out of the box, after first asking him what was his favorite baseball team. Video is best, really – like I said, the look on his face was priceless, but here’s some highlights:

Stewart: oh, man. we really disagree. mets. “war: indecision.” what if it boils down to that, i like the mets, you like the phillies. the whole thing falls apart. it seem like in reading it sort of the basic idea of the book– and tell me if i’m wrong– that a lot of what we know about the run-up to the iraq war, a low of the conventional wisdom is wrong. this idea that, i think it’s something that you might take offense to that we were misled into war somehow. (one person applauding)…
settle down. it will be a long ten minutes, lady. the idea we’re misled in a war is wrong. now, from this side of it, i always felt like we were misled. so, let’s bridge that gap in ten minutes. what makes you say we were not misled? what was so honest about….

Feith: i think the administration had an honest belief in the things that it said. some of the things that it said about the war that were part of the rationale for the war were wrong. errors are not lies. i think much of what the administration said was correct and provided an important argument that leaving saddam hussein in power would have been extremely risky even though the president’s decision to remove him was extremely risky.

Stewart: let me stop you there because the president’s decision to remove him was extremely risky. that’s not the sense, i think, that the american people got in the run-up. (applause) the sense that you got from people was not… the sense was, we’ll be greeted as liberators. it will last maybe six weeks, maybe six months. it will pay for itself. all these scenarios that were publicly proffered never happened. you said something that i thought was interesting. the common refrain that the post war has been a disaster is only true if you had completely unrealistic expectations. where would we have gotten those expectations? (laughing)

Feith: well, there were a lot of things that did not go according to expectations. we know that the war has been bloodier and costlyier and lengthyier than anybody hoped. but the president had an extremely difficult task. after 9/11, there was a great sensitivity to our vulnerability. and the president had to weigh– and what i do in the book is i look at the actual documents where secretary rumsfeld was writing to the president and powell and rice and the vice president and general myers and others. i talk about what they said to each other and what they were saying back to secretary rumsfeld. what you see is there was a serious consideration of the very great risks of war. i think that many of them were actually discussed with the public. but to tell you the truth, looking back one thing is absolutely clear. this administration made grocerors in the way it talked about the war. some of them are very obvious like the….

Stewart: that was all we had to go on. you know, that was… i guess the difference in my mind is if you knew the perils but the conversation that you had with the public painted a rosier picture, how is that not deception? that sounds like… when you’re sell ago product…. ( applause ) what it sounds like for me. sorry. the fact that you seem to know all the risks takes this from manslaughter to homicide. it almost takes it from like with the cigarette companies. if they come out and say, no, our products i think are going to be delicious. you go back and you look and they go, well, they actually did talk about addictiveness and cancer. isn’t that deception?

And so it goes – and that was only the beginning.

Every once in the while you see something on the television that makes you want to get up and cheer like you’re sitting in the endzone at Heinz Field and its 4th and 10 and Roethlisberger is earning his pay.

Stewart’s interview was one of those times.

Here is the full transcript.

There’s also uncut video – as I said, the look on Feith’s face is priceless. Part I and Part II.

by jhwygirl

A friend mentioned it, and I went looking. It’s real hard to prove that something doesn’t exist. After all – if it didn’t happen, how do you prove it didn’t happen?

And maybe that is the point of it all.

Two weeks ago I wrote that the Symbiotic Relationship of the Bush Administration and the Mainstream Media has No Boundary. That piece detailed the relationship between the mainstream medias so-called military analysts (retired Army General James Marks, retired Army Colonel John C. Garret, retired Air Force General Joseph W. Ralston, retired General Paul E. Vallely, retired Major General Bob Scales – hell, the list goes on…) and the Pentagon, which provided them with perks and inside scripted talking points. The Times article went on to expose the corporate connections these so-called analysts have, and the conflict of interest resulting from the inherent financial benefits they stood to gain from keeping the war machine moving along, irregardless of the dangers it posed for our troops. Irregardless of the truth it masked.

Has there been a mention of that extensive article by the New York Times on any of the television news outlets? No.

How many times has the New York Times article been mentioned since its publication two weeks ago? Twice. Two pieces, both being on the April 24th PBS NewsHour.News coverage in the week following the New York Times article

This illustrates, for me, why blogs are all the more important in today’s media. News sources – local and national – are failing us, folks. While blogs won’t replace traditional media, they can serve to keep important issues in the public’s eye, and they can serve to give attention to the issues that affect our everyday lives.

by jhwygirl

A little over a week ago I wrote about the NY Times story which exposed the who’s-up-whose-ass relationship between the Bush Administration and the media’s so-called military analysts – those retired generals that you see on every major news station telling us that the surge is working, that the troops have enough armor, that we are winning the war in Iraq.

In other words, one more shame on the Bush Administration.

At least I didn’t see the honorable General Wesley Clark on that list. At least some of the retired military still look out for the men that they previously commanded.

And boy, you should have heard the reaction from the two Army veterans of the Iraq war when I forwarded that story to them.

On Thursday, Representative Ike Skeleton (D-MO), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, had a whole hell of a lot to say about the article.

Why is it that only Democrats have come out on record as being appalled of the behavior of not only the Pentagon but the retired generals also? Not one of Montana’s conservative bloggers have expressed outrage over this either. When you think of how many Montanans are in the reserves, and serving in Iraq, or have served in Iraq, don’t you think that maybe even one of them would express some disappointment? Aren’t these guys supposed to support the troops? How is remaining silent about retired generals who were more concerned about their consulting fees than the troops they served with supporting the troops?

Principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense Robert Hastings halted the feeding of information to those military analysts after seeing the NY Times article, saying that he is concerned about allegations that the Defense Department’s relationship with the retired military analysts was improper.

Stars and Stripes has the story.

by jhwygirl

See it for yourself. Notice the title.

VA email – February 13, 2008

Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) office said statistics provided earlier this year by the VA showed that 790 veterans under VA care attempted suicide in 2007.

790? Talk about fuzzy math.

790 does not equal 12,000. Unless your a tool of the Bush Administration.

That’s nearly 33 attempted suicides by military veterans per day.

Sen. Harkin, Sen. Patty Murray (D- WA) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced legislation Tuesday calling on the VA to track how many veterans commit suicide each year. Currently, VA facilities record the number of suicides and attempted suicides in VA facilities – but do not record how many veterans overall take their own lives.

On Monday, a class action suit brought by veterans groups opened in San Francisco charging a “systemwide breakdown,” citing long delays in receiving disability benefits and flaws in the way discharged soldiers at risk for suicide had been treated.

Kerri J. Childress, a department spokeswoman, said Monday that there were an average of 18 suicides a day among America’s 25 million veterans and that more than a fifth were committed by men and women being treated by Veterans Affairs.

Fuzzy math continues.

So if it’s not mistreatment of living veterans, and it’s not disrespect after they’ve given their lives in service – it’s lies about the reality this illegal war is bring to our sons and daughters, our families – our nation.

Mayor of Mahem, commenting on a previous post, Americans Don’t Know How Many U.S. Soldiers Have Been Killed in Iraq, explained to us the reality he already knows:

…I have a family member that has returned from Iraq in apparent good health, only to find out later that they will never be the same. This is especially disturbing to the son of a Vietnam conflict veteran who has watched a father fight that war over and over again for the last 40 years. The cost to our country for this war will be paid for the next fifty years. Not by those who who gave all, their sacrifice and that of their families is immeasurable. The long term cost of caring for physically injured and mentally effected US servicemen will be a heavy load for US families to carry. Say a prayer tonight for the 19 year old North Dakota farm boy walking through an alley in Bagdad or the twenty six year old sergeant and father of two from Los Angeles on duty in Fallujah.

There is a fire burning in the middle east and the fuel for that fire is our children.

I cry for my nation. I cry for its soldiers.

God Bless.

by jhwygirl

A Pew Institute survey, results released March 12th, shows that American’s awareness in the number of American military casualties in Iraq is slipping.

The number of American military deaths, as of Sunday evening, is 4039. The total number of coalition deaths is 4348.

The number of American military deaths on August 7th, 8 1/2 months ago, was 3684.

How can we be so far removed from the reality of the war in Iraq that we are unaware – to the tune of only 28% being able to cite “4000” – of the number of American sons and daughters that have been killed in a war built on lies?

Could it be that the media coverage of the war is dropping? That biased media coverage?

Well, maybe so. That same survey tells us that press attention to the war has dropped to an all-time low of just 3% in February. The overall coverage, from January 1st through March 20th, is 4%.

Coinciding with the drop in war coverage is an increase in the number of Americans who think that military progress is being made in Iraq.

What does this mean?

It means McCain is walking on a free pass with the media’s lack of focus on the war. It means that journalists get away with asking questions about Drudge Report allegations and flag pins. It means that the beverage of choice (Crown Royal or green tea anyone?) is more important than the national debt.

The national debt? Nearing $6,000,000,000,000.

How about some war costs?
The cost of the Iraq war? Nearing $515,000,000,000.
The daily cost of the Iraq war? $314,400,000.
The cost of the Iraq war, per household? $4,681.

The cost to the entire state of Montana? $790,000,000.

Meanwhile, in other news, McCain has vowed a war on wasteful spending.

Given the evidence of the media’s output on that topic, and McCain’s expert grasp on economic issues, one has to wonder if he even knows what in the hell he’s actually talking about.

(Hat tip to hummingbirdminds.)

by jhwygirl

A New York Times article released yesterday but dated today – much of which was the result of having to sue the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of email messages, transcripts and records – goes into gory, disgusting detail of the relationship between the Pentagon, the Bush Administration and most (yep, most) military analysts on mainstream media outlets like Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, and NBC.

Some of these analysts were on the mission to Cuba on June 24, 2005 — the first of six such Guantánamo trips — which was designed to mobilize analysts against the growing perception of Guantánamo as an international symbol of inhumane treatment. On the flight to Cuba, for much of the day at Guantánamo and on the flight home that night, Pentagon officials briefed the 10 or so analysts on their key messages — how much had been spent improving the facility, the abuse endured by guards, the extensive rights afforded detainees.The results came quickly. The analysts went on TV and radio, decrying Amnesty International, criticizing calls to close the facility and asserting that all detainees were treated humanely.

“The impressions that you’re getting from the media and from the various pronouncements being made by people who have not been here in my opinion are totally false,” Donald W. Shepperd, a retired Air Force general, reported live on CNN by phone from Guantánamo that same afternoon.

The next morning, Montgomery Meigs, a retired Army general and NBC analyst, appeared on “Today.” “There’s been over $100 million of new construction,” he reported. “The place is very professionally run.”

Within days, transcripts of the analysts’ appearances were circulated to senior White House and Pentagon officials, cited as evidence of progress in the battle for hearts and minds at home.

Are you kidding me?!

Assistant secretary of defense for public affairs Torie Clark, a former public relations executive, cooked up the plan. Before 9/11, she had begun to build a system within the Pentagon to recruit key movers and shakers that could be counted on to generate support for Secretary of State Don Rumsfield’s priorities. She found them in military analysts who she saw as not only getting more airtime than network reporters, but were also viewed by the public as independent of the media – which we all know can be biased, right?

What the public got, instead, was a neoconservative brain trust which spoonfed Pentagon and Bush administration talking points to the public while raking in increasingly larger salaries from military contractors that supplemented their retirement incomes.

Neocons such as retired Army general Paul E. Vallely, a Fox News military analyst from 2001 to 2007. Vallely had specialized in psychological warfare and co-authored a paper in 1980 that blamed American’s loss in Vietnam on American news organizations failure to defend the nations from “enemy propaganda” during the war – a belief shared by many on Bush’s national security team.

Then there were defense profiteers such as retired Army general James Marks, a military analyst for CNN from 2004 to 2007, who worked as a senior executive for McNeil Technologies which pursued both military and intelligence contracts. Marks was also national security adviser for former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

There was also retired Army colonel John C. Garret, a military analyst for Fox News TV and radio & a lobbyist at Patton Boggs, which assists firms wishing to win Pentagon contracts. Or retired Air Force general Joseph W. Ralston, CBS military analyst and vice-chair of the Cohen Group, a consulting firm headed up by former defense secretary William Cohen, which represents agencies and firms wishing for entry into the aerospace and defense market.

The Times admits to having had at least nine of the Pentagon’s recruited minions writing op-ed articles for them.

Vallely is apparently having some crisis of conscience. In an interview with the Times, commenting on a September 2003 tour of Iraq with fellow military analysts, Vallely expresses remorse: “I saw immediately in 2003 that things were going south.”

Vallely had told Alan Colmes of Fox News, upon his return from that very same propaganda-filled tour, “You can’t believe the progress”

Fox news military analyst and retired Army lieutenant colonel Timur J. Eads had a crisis-of-conscience too – he told the times that he, too, had at times held his tongue on television for fear that “some four-star would call up and say, ‘Kill that contract.’ Eads believe Pentagon officials misled the analysts aboutthe progress of Iraq’s security forces. “I know a snow job when I see one,” he said.

Eads never mentioned that on Fox News.

You don’t say!

The Times story goes on to shine the light, in full disgusting brightness, on the self-serving criminal arrogance of the Bush Administration and Don Rumsfield and the Pentagon. In April 2006 the Bush Administration faced what is now known as the General’s Revolt – open criticism by Rumsfields’ former generals that his wartime performance was crap. His resignation was being called for and his days were beginning their downward spiral.

The day after that NY Times article, the Pentagon helped Fox analysts General McInerney and General Vallely write an opinion article for The Wall Street Journal defending Rumsfield. News of that meeting leaked, and was printed on the front page of the Times. By Tuesday, the Pentagon was in full defense mode, and had a larger group of analysts in its offices willing to propogate the spin necessary to help defend Rumsfield from his own Iraqi war generals:

“I’m an old intel guy,” said one analyst. (The transcript omits speakers’ names.) “And I can sum all of this up, unfortunately, with one word. That is Psyops. Now most people may hear that and they think, ‘Oh my God, they’re trying to brainwash.’ ”

“What are you, some kind of a nut?” Mr. Rumsfeld cut in, drawing laughter. “You don’t believe in the Constitution?”

There was little discussion about the actual criticism pouring forth from Mr. Rumsfeld’s former generals. Analysts argued that opposition to the war was rooted in perceptions fed by the news media, not reality. The administration’s overall war strategy, they counseled, was “brilliant” and “very successful.”

“Frankly,” one participant said, “from a military point of view, the penalty, 2,400 brave Americans whom we lost, 3,000 in an hour and 15 minutes, is relative.”

An analyst said at another point: “This is a wider war. And whether we have democracy in Iraq or not, it doesn’t mean a tinker’s damn if we end up with the result we want, which is a regime over there that’s not a threat to us.”

“Yeah,” Mr. Rumsfeld said, taking notes.

But winning or not, they bluntly warned, the administration was in grave political danger so long as most Americans viewed Iraq as a lost cause. “America hates a loser,” one analyst said.

Much of the session was devoted to ways that Mr. Rumsfeld could reverse the “political tide.” One analyst urged Mr. Rumsfeld to “just crush these people,” and assured him that “most of the gentlemen at the table” would enthusiastically support him if he did.

“You are the leader,” the analyst told Mr. Rumsfeld. “You are our guy.”

At another point, an analyst made a suggestion: “In one of your speeches you ought to say, ‘Everybody stop for a minute and imagine an Iraq ruled by Zarqawi.’ And then you just go down the list and say, ‘All right, we’ve got oil, money, sovereignty, access to the geographic center of gravity of the Middle East, blah, blah, blah.’ If you can just paint a mental picture for Joe America to say, ‘Oh my God, I can’t imagine a world like that.’ ”

Even as they assured Mr. Rumsfeld that they stood ready to help in this public relations offensive, the analysts sought guidance on what they should cite as the next “milestone” that would, as one analyst put it, “keep the American people focused on the idea that we’re moving forward to a positive end.” They placed particular emphasis on the growing confrontation with Iran.

“When you said ‘long war,’ you changed the psyche of the American people to expect this to be a generational event,” an analyst said. “And again, I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job…”

“Get in line,” Mr. Rumsfeld interjected.

The meeting ended and Mr. Rumsfeld, appearing pleased and relaxed, took the entire group into a small study and showed off treasured keepsakes from his life, several analysts recalled.

Read it if you dare. I’ll just leave you with the image above: Rumsfield, appearing pleased and relaxed, showing off his little trinkets.

by jhwygirl

The Jeanette Rankin Peace Center is hosting Oscar-winning filmmaker Barbara Trent and her latest documentary Soldiers Speak Out at the Roxy Theater tomorrow.

A wine and cheese reception begins at 6:30 p.m., and a Q&A with the filmmaker follows the screening. Suggested donation is $10 ($5 for those living lightly). RSVP at543-3955, or via email at peace@jrpc.org.

A half-hour documentary, Soldiers Speak Out is told entirely from the mouths of American veterans who have been to the Iraqi war and are now opposing it. They discuss how they came to join the military, their experiences in training and in war, and what led them to the point where they decided they could no longer, in good conscience, participate in the war or keep silent.

The film provides a sobering view of the war in Iraq, and sheds light on the growing and anti-war and anti-occupation movement within the military and their families.

On Thursday, Ms. Trent will be at UM’s UC Theater for a presentation of her feature-length award-winning documentary COVERUP: Behind the Iran Contra Affair. Two screening are being held, one at 5:30, and another at 7:30 p.m. Both will be followed by a Q&A session. COVERUP is one of eleven films being brought to UM as part of the Montana Peace & Justice Film Series for Spring 2008.

COVERUP: Behind the Iran Contra Affair exposes several of the most disturbing chapters in the history of U.S. covert foreign policy, and presents a tale of politics, drugs, hostages, weapons, assassinations, covert operations and the ultimate plan to suspend the U.S. Constitution.

Trent’s film was the first to reveal the ‘October Surprise’ hostage deal (the Reagan/Bush campaign deal with Iran to delay the release of the 52 American hostages until after the 1980 election), and is the only film that presents a comprehensive overview of the most important stories suppressed during the Iran Contra hearings.

Ms. Trent’s visit to Missoula is sponsored by Students for Peace and Justice, Jeanette Rankin Peace Center, Associated Students of the University Montana, Film Studies, the History and English Departments, Environmental Studies Program, Women and Gender Studies Program, Davidson Honors College, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and the Empowerment Project, and provide locals and students alike with an excellent opportunity to see some power films and Q&A a seasoned activist who has publically exposed criminal activities in the White House, Pentagon and the CIA.

Barbara Trent has been the target of at least three FBI counter-intelligence operations. Appointed as an Expert Senior Training Specialist for the VISTA Program under Jimmy Carter, Ms. Trent has been decorated with the Gasper Octavio Hernandez Award by the Journalist’s Union in Panama, and is a recipient of the American Humanist Association’s Arts Award for her “courageous advocacy of progressive ideas.”

by Rebecca Schmitz

Bozeman’s Mayor Jeff Krauss wants us to win in Iraq. Conservatives on Missoula’s City Council feel it’s “wrong and disgusting” to discuss the war on Council’s time. With all the division in Bozeman and Missoula over our towns’ Iraq War resolutions, other American cities serve as a reminder that we’re not really all that radical. Take some of the citizens of Brattleboro, Vermont for example. In the words of Emeril Lagasse, they’re kickin’ it up a notch:

A group in Brattleboro is petitioning to put an item on a town meeting agenda in March that would make Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney subject to arrest and indictment if they visit the southeastern Vermont community.

The central argument of their opponents is the same as in our communities:

“I would not be supportive of it,” said Stephen Steidle, a member of the town’s Selectboard, which oversees its government. “It’s well outside of our ability. From my perspective, the Brattleboro Selectboard needs to focus on the town and the things that need to be done here.”

From my perspective, if we can’t get Congress or the Administration to listen to us, why shouldn’t we turn to our local politicians? Change has to start somewhere. However, as amusing as this petition is, I don’t think arresting Bush and Cheney will bring our nation together, let alone redirect our foreign policy. I doubt both men will ever find themselves in Brattleboro. Bush has yet to visit Vermont at all during his term in office. More importantly, our country is too dependent on fossil fuels to get our fingers out of the Middle East’s petroleum pie. For better or worse, we’ll be involved in their internal politics until all of us finally realize our national security depends on switching to other energy sources.

On the other hand, I won’t lie: it warms the cockles of my little black heart to imagine both of them handcuffed and placed in the back of a squad car.

by jhwygirl

By a 3-2 vote, the Bozeman City Commission supported a resolution for a “orderly, rapidly and comprehensive” withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

More of Montana speaks.

by jhwygirl

Looks like Bozeman’s city council will consider a resolution calling for President Bush to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

The Bozeman Peace Seekers have been gathering signatures since November. The city council, in November before a packed meeting, voted 3-2 to consider the resolution.

Critics, like those in Missoula, say that city council has more pressing issues to attend to – like the new jail and fire station.

With today’s news of the Private Darren Smith’s death in Iraq, this former Bozeman resident believes nothing could be more appropriate.

by Rebecca Schmitz

While you’re taking a few moments today to commemorate Veterans’ Day (and let’s hope it’s not merely at the sale in the shoe department at Macy’s), think about some of the sacrifices–on our part–that could be made to prevent future wars of choice from happening. Some Montana veterans did just that this past week when they wrote a letter to the House of Representatives. In the name of patriotism, they urged our Congressmen to pass a law that would force the American auto industry to improve fuel efficiency.

“Our continued dependence on oil constitutes an immediate threat to our national security – economically, militarily and diplomatically,” the 26 veterans said in their letter to members of Congress. “Increasing fuel efficiency for cars and trucks is the most effective and efficient manner to decrease that dependence.”

The technology to do this is already here. Other countries’ cars already meet and exceed the standard proposed in the bill before Congress: 35 mph. And they do it right now, not at some future date like 2020. Detroit knows full well it can meet this pitiful thirteen-year deadline, too. For instance, we’ve been hearing about the Chevy Volt, its own hybrid concept car, for nearly a year now. As these Montana veterans know, fuel efficiency should be the cornerstone of America’s foreign policy. Wars of choice, like Iraq, will only multiply as our fossil fuel-dependent nation struggles to globally control a finite resource. That’s just what our future holds until, at the very least, we start making and driving cars that conserve oil and gas. It’s time we demanded our government-subsidized private industries, like the Big Three, do something now that helps our energy independence in years to come. It’s the patriotic thing to do.




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